Duane E. Dewey

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Duane Edgar Dewey
Dewey DE.jpg  A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1931-11-16) November 16, 1931 (age 85)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1951–1952
Rank Corporal
Unit 2nd Battalion 5th Marines
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor (1952)
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation

Duane Edgar Dewey (born November 16, 1931) is a former American combat Marine. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions on April 16, 1952 during the Korean War. Although wounded by an enemy grenade, he smothered another exploding grenade with his own body to save the life of a corpsman and the other Marines around him.


Early years

Dewey was born on November 16, 1931 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended school in Muskegon until 1947. He then worked for six months on a farm in South Haven, and for a year as a foundry worker at National Motors, Inc. in South Haven.

Marine Corps

Dewey signed with the Marine Corps Reserve on March 7, 1951 for an "'indefinite' enlistment — the duration of the war plus six months."[1] He completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, and underwent intensive combat training at Camp Pendleton, California.


He embarked for Korea in September 1951. He participated in the United Nations summer-fall offensive of 1951 and the second winter of Korean fighting. Corporal Dewey earned the Medal of Honor on April 16, 1952, near Panmunjom, Korea, while serving as leader of a machine gun squad with Company E, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He had been wounded by a grenade that had exploded at his feet,[1] and was being treated by a Navy medical corpsman when an enemy grenade landed at the squad’s position. Yanking the corpsman to the ground and warning members of the squad, Cpl Dewey flung himself on the grenade shouting, "Doc, I got it in my hip pocket!" The grenade exploded, lifting Dewey off the ground and inflicting "gaping shrapnel wounds throughout the lower part of his body".[1] In addition, he sustained a bullet wound to the stomach.

Hospitalization and discharge

After treatment of his wounds in Korea, Dewey was evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, and then to the U.S. Naval Hospitals at Mare Island, California, and Great Lakes, Illinois. Following his recuperation at Great Lakes, he was released from active duty on August 19, 1952.

Medal of Honor

On March 12, 1953, Dewey was the first person to receive the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. After presenting the medal to Dewey during the ceremony at the White House, Eisenhower said to him, "You must have a body of steel."

Awards and decorations[edit]

Dewey's military awards include:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Medal of Honor Purple Heart Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation
National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal with two bronze service stars United Nations Service Medal

Medal of Honor[edit]

CPL Dewey 2013
Dewey and his wife in 2004

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Gunner in a Machine-Gun Platoon of Company E, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces near Panmunjom, Korea, on April 16, 1952. When an enemy grenade landed close to this position while he and his assistant gunner were receiving medical attention for their wounds during a fierce night attack by numerically superior hostile forces, Corporal DEWEY, although suffering intense pain, immediately pulled the corpsman to the ground and, shouting a warning to the other Marines around him, bravely smothered the deadly missile with his body, personally absorbing the full force of the explosion to save his comrades from possible injury or death. His indomitable courage, outstanding initiative and valiant efforts in behalf of others in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon Corporal DEWEY and enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Medal of Honor: Duane E. Dewey". NBC Nightly News. June 22, 2007. 


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.